22. Dr. E's grammar sequence

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22-3. Verb parts playing other parts




Module 1

1: Orientation  
2: Goals   

Module 2

  3: Euthyphro  
     4: The Library
 5: The Apology   
    6: Citation   
    7: Crito
    8: Phaedo  
    9: Exam Prep   
10: Plato Exam

Module 3

11: Research Project 
12: Research 101   
13: Books   
14: the Librarian   
15: the Web   
16: conferences  
17: Joy of Research 
18: Reasoning 

Module 4

19: Outlines 
20: Review the Plan:
21: Language 
22: Dr E's Grammar
23: Peer Review  
24: Hit Parade 

Module 5

25: About the Exam
26: Mock Final 
27: Exam Prep
28: Graduation 


So far we've seen that verbs have parts because they not only mean what they mean (I eat their bones), but they also carry the added meanings of time (I ate their bones, I was eating their bones, I've already eaten their bones).

But like all living, breathing English words, these verb parts aren't always content to remain in one category all of the time. They often quit their jobs as verb parts and become other parts of speech-- sometimes adjectives, sometimes nouns.

Take the verb 'fall' in the sentence, "I've fallen enough already." Here "fallen" is part of the main verb. But how about a "fallen" tree? Now "fallen" is an adjective; it describes "tree" in the same way that the adjective 'leafy' would. So now 'fallen' isn't really a verb but an adjective.

How about "falling," as in falling snow, falling leaves or falling temperatures. Still a verb? No, an adjective. It describes the nouns "snow," "leaves," and "temperatures."

Now, how about these sentences:

"Falling hurts."

"Falling doesn't have to mean injuring yourself if you know how to do it."

"Falling in love is always never simple."

In these sentences 'falling' is a noun. (As a test,, you can easily substitute a familiar noun: Rejection hurts. Rejection doesn't have to mean injury if you know how to handle it. Rejection is never simple.) When a verb part (in this case the present participle) is used as a noun, it's called a gerund.

Understanding these mutations in the parts of verbs will help you immeasurably

to distinguish between the main verbs in sentences and verb parts used as adjectives and nouns,

to recognize certain phrase types, such as gerund phrases, based on parts of the verb, and

to distinguish between actual sentences and some phrase types which look like sentences, but aren't.

"Driving to school in my car" is not a complete sentence; it is only a phrase or sentence fragment. (See Hacker section 14 on fragments.) For a complete sentence, add a verb. "Driving to school in my car requires a quart of oil."

For further review of the parts that play other parts, look at Dr. E's  Grammar Sequence for College Writers.




gutchess@englishare.net                    Academic writing home page                    Gary & Elizabeth Gutchess 2003